An Interview with Submachine's Al Best
YOUR CAREER 'TIL NOW
I’ve been designing, illustrating, writing and art directing for 30+ years, starting out at a couple of ad agencies and then as a freelancer. I’m not the first person to feel the burnout that the advertising industry is notorious for and, in my case, a recent motorcycle trip in California marked the watershed moment to begin my mental recovery. I came back to New Zealand completely reinvigorated and determined to create something, on my own terms, from scratch. The magazine is still in its infancy so the goal now is to see just how far it can go. I hope to keep producing it for as long as people think it’s any good.
HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
IS PRINT MEDIA A LOST ART FORM?
Someone recently told me that Submachine is to magazines what vinyl records are to music. I took it as a huge compliment. I was definitely advised against making a magazine. It’s a tough road. Still, I watch people run their hands seductively over the velvety cover and inhale the fresh ink smell and think “Wow. They are already having a nice time and they haven’t even started reading it.” Print’s not dead!
LEGENDS, DEAD OR ALIVE...
Everybody winces whenever I say it, but... Tom Cruise. That guy is next level. See? I can hear people moaning and rolling their eyes as they read this. I won’t tolerate it. He should have a bookshelf full of Academy Awards. Need that Helicopter moved? Tom can fly it. Stuntman didn’t show up? No problem. Don’t need one. Broken ankle? I’ll just keep running so I don’t ruin the take. Comedy? Drama? Sci-fi? Action? Thriller? Romance? Shall we get 6 different actors for those? No need because WE’VE GOT TOM FUCKING CRUISE! Also, Leonardo daVinci
HOW DOES T&D ALIGN WITH SUBMACHINE?
I’ve always had a lot of respect for Triumph&Disaster’s ethos, brand values, design standards and the quality of the actual stuff in the tube. When I first started playing with the magazine and getting the look and feel right, I stole ads off the internet for the first mock-up. The first ad I stole was a T&D Coltrane Clay double page spread.
WHAT ARE YOUR DAILY RITUALS?
My dad was in the Highland Light Infantry and you could set your watch by his rituals. At 7:30am sharp he was out the door, clean-shaven, in vapour-trail of Old Spice and then home and holding a gin and tonic by 5:30pm without fail. By comparison, I am a complete shambles, though I routinely fall asleep during House of the Dragon. Does that count?
WHAT'S YOUR GO TO T&D PRODUCT?
My wife Maria wants me to shave off my beard (‘you look so old!’) but I would then have no reason to use my T&D Noble Endeavour, which I love, so the beard stays at least until I run out.